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Ultrathin Razr..A Motorola comeback?
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Ultrathin Razr..A Motorola comeback?

In the beginning there was the Motorola RAZR an iconic 2004 era  line of flip phones that became one of the best selling phones in the world pre-iPhone. Needless to say, the original Motorola RAZR V3 enjoyed great success and gave Motorola a big name in the wireless industry for a number of years. Over the RAZR’s four-year run, Motorola sold more than 130 million units. Unfortunately Motorola didn’t keep up with rapidly changing technology and industry watchers wondered it Motorola would ever regain the strong foothold it had in the wireless market.

Motorola has certainly had success since, particularly with the successful Droid and Droid X, but  the Droid label is linked to Verizon and owes it success to huge promotions launched by Verizon to compete with AT&T’s exclusive iPhones. .Hoping to once again make the name Motorola synonymous with cutting-edge tech, the company has resurrected the RAZR name. Has it managed to reclaim the magic and mystique of the V3, which had many a gadget hound coughing up some serious coin in 2004?

Well, the RAZR is thin, it  features a  body that measures 7.1mm thick. According to Motorola the Droid RAZR is the world’s thinnest 4G smartphone. And while thin is definitely a key feature in today’s competitive smartphone market, performance is equally important. Motorola has given the Droid RAZR a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, a 4.3-inchd qHD Super AMOLED Advanced display, 8MP camera, and Android 2.3. This smartphone will be upgradeable to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) at some point in the future.

Thin as it may be the Motorola RAZR is as big and wide as a truck. At 68.9mm (2.71in) wide it is 3.5mm wider than the HTC Sensation which also has a 4.3″ screen and is even 0.3mm wider than the Samsung Galaxy Nexus which sports a 4.65″ screen. The bezel is huge all around with a lot of wasted space.

 

On the bright side the industrial design is good..I like the look of this phone with the beveled corners and the classy Motorola logo at the top. The back is covered with Kevlar..which has a nice feel and looks classy and the RAZR has been treated with a water repellent nanocoating that protects the phone (including the inside components) from spills. The RAZR is nice and stiff and doesn’t flex like some of the competitors’ phones. That is partially because the back is solid..the battery is not removable. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? For most people it likely doesn’t make any difference..the battery isn’t likely to need changing in the time most people will own it. For tinkerers like me it is an advantage to be able to remove the battery to restart the phone if a ROM upgrade goes wrong.

When it comes to performance the RAZR is a pleasant phone to work with..panning is smooth apps start quickly and run well. The Super Amoled screen is OK..bright with good contrast it doesn’t seem as sharp as it should..this has long been a problem with Motorola’s PenTile Matrix. Battery life is about average for a phone of this class..I was able to comfortably get a full day of moderate use on a charge..heavy users will want to have a charger at the office or in the car. Audio was good at both ends of the call.but Internet performance stunk. Rogers bills this as a 4G phone with a max 14.4Mbps download..I got nowhere near that at best and the average was well below what I see on the Belus network.

The cameras are a mixed bag..the rear 8 megapixel camera is capable of capturing 1080p video and has  a single LED flash . Pictures taken outdoors in broad daylight were pretty good even in challenging situations on snow under full sun. In good light there is practically no shutter lag. While indoor shots under artificial lighting were just OK, you could easily detect some noise in the images without the flash. Using the flash results in noticeable shutter lag.  The RAZR takes surprisingly good macro shots, this is two inches away from my keyboard using flash. The front facing 1.3Mp camera is better than average for video calling.

 

Video performance surprisingly good.  The video is crisp color reproduction was good and showed good detail in the shadows. The camera has an image stabilization feature which is far from perfect, but it helps smooth out the worst of the shakes.

The Motorola RAZR is a stunning phone..thinner than pretty much any phone out there and it makes no sacrifices to get that slimness. It’s solidly constructed from premium materials like diamond-cut aluminum, Gorilla Glass and a sheet of super-slick Kevlar. Few phones out there can compare when it comes to build quality. A triumph of form over function..as any high fashion device should be..ergonomically it does not impress me. Way to wide for its 4.3″screen it is huge in my smaller hands and the sharp angles necessitated by its thin profile make the RAZR extremely uncomfortable to hold for any length of time. Frankly I don’t understand why thin is in..it makes phones very uncomfortable in the hand.  So is this a Motorola bounceback phone? Not for me! I think the Samsung Galaxy Nexus or even my current favourite the slightly older  HTC Sensation are better bets.

The Motorola RAZR is available from Rovers for $99.99 on a three year contract and $649.99 with no plan as well ad Fido for $100 on a three year plan and $525 with no plan.

Bob Benedetti

Former RCAF Fighter Pilot Bob worked for CTV Montreal as a Reporter, Producer and Executive producer for 35 years retiring in 2004. Bob started reporting on personal technology in 1995 at CTV and continues today at Home Technology Montreal

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